Man fakes broken ankle to get free business-class upgrade on flight

Helen Coffey
Jamie Zhu put on an orthopedic boot: YouTube/Jamie Zhu

An Australian YouTuber has come under fire for faking a broken ankle in order to get a free flight upgrade.

Jamie Zhu, whose YouTube channel has more than 700,000 subscribers, recently posted a video called “How To Fly Business Class For Free!”.

In it, he describes how he plans to blag a free upgrade from economy to business class on a Cathay Pacific flight by pretending to have an injury.

Mr Zhu buys an orthopaedic boot from an airport pharmacy and replaces his trainer with it in time for the flight.

He can then be seen on the plane pretending the boot won’t fit in his economy seat and requesting the flight attendant find him another place to sit.

The ploy worked, and Mr Zhu was moved to business class. As soon as he sat down he removed the boot and proceeded to enjoy all the perks of an upgrade: a superior meal, free wine and a fully reclining seat.

“I had an amazing eight-hour sleep, I just woke up,” he says later in the video. “That was such a relaxing flight.”

As he leaves the plane, a flight attendant says, “I hope your ankle gets better.”

No longer wearing the boot, Mr Zhu responds: “Oh yeah, I forgot about that.”

The video, which has clocked up more than 57,000 views at the time of writing, received many negative comments from those who were less than impressed by the stunt.

“The title should be ‘how to scam people in order to get more attention on social media’. Loser,” wrote one viewer, while another commented: “Shame on you! My daughter is a flight attendant and you are taking advantage of their good will to try and help those in need.”

The Independent has contacted Jamie Zhu and Cathay Pacific for comment.

It’s not the first time a passenger has attempted to circumvent the rules on a flight.

In October 2019, a budget airline passenger stuffed her belongings down the front of her jumpsuit to form a pregnancy “bump” in a bid to avoid paying the excess baggage fee.​

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